Ok… I lied

Ok, maybe I didn’t lie, but I wasn’t able to continue the romp as DPS.

No More Ret... For now.

No More Ret... For now.

I did enjoy doing my daily quests as a Retribution paladin, and I did get a few upgrades; however, I didn’t get to use it that often in group situations. More often then not, we’d be short a healer, and I’d have to step in there instead. I think that only real group experience I had was a couple of 5 mans, and a quick Patchwerk fight for the weekly. I did do pretty well on the meters, which was fun, but it’s a bit repetative, and I don’t think that I really enjoy melee dps… and I never thought that I’d feel that way.

The reason for this, is that I don’t feel like I’m able to DPS to my full potential, unless I have a good tank who can hold the mob(s) in place, plus I’m never sure which mob to truly focus on if the tank is going all willy nilly on all the mobs. Usually I’d just focus another melee dps, and attack the target they are focusing on. I just don’t feel that I contributed as much as I could have, and because of this decided to respec back to Protection.

Yes, I do still have all my ret gear though, saved up in case I get the itch again, but for now I’ll be sticking with my insta-queues and the constant vigilence required to tank or heal. I guess another factor that influenced my decision was the fact that I was fortunate enough to get the Neverending Winter shield from ICC 10. This was even while I was healing, and fortunately all the tanks already had it or couldn’t use it. I had been waiting to replace my ‘ol faithful Royal Crest of Lordaeron (which will stay in my bank forever… yes more clutter). I now look even more like an actual tank, with my fancy T9, fancy T10 shield, and emblem helmet, I was looking good.

I think the loot was somewhat of an issue. I had nearly 5 chances to get a new weapon or other piece of gear for my Ret set, over the few times I was in ICC. The Citadel Enforcer’s Claymore dropped 3 times, each time… I was healing, and the other melee dps that could use it were still using the Tyrannical Beheader, just like me, so obviously, to the winner go the spoils. Ramaladni’s Blade of Culling even dropped once, and went to the dps Deathknight in the run, cause guess what… I was healing. Even had the Bone Drake’s Enameled Boots drop as well, but yet again, I was healing, and one of hte DPS could use it over me. I guess it’s an obvious observation, that there are more DPS, and therefore more competition for gear. With Ret Paladins, Fury and Arms Warriors, and Unholy/Blood DKs all fighting for the same gear, it does get a bit more difficult for me to get my chance, especially when I am unable to actually DPS for the run, as my Healing set/skills are needed more. But, as I always say, c’est la vie.

I guess that is a bane of Pugging as well. I am unable to ever make my guild’s scheduled runs, as I can never guarantee that I’m going to be able to make it. I am more interested in helping out my wife, or being with her and the kids, than starting a run at 7:30-8:00. So, the only chances I’ve ever been in ICC are through PUGs that I happen to run across while sitting in Dalaran doing some dailies, and most of those are pretty late in the evening. I guess that’s also why I have never seen beyond Rotface and Festergut (I’ve actually taken them down though, that was a fun run too).

So to close this all up, I’m no longer Holy / Ret, I’m now Holy / Prot once again, and will likely stay that way unless I am requested to come as dps, or get the itch again. So, until then, insta-queues and Emblems of Triumph flowing from the heavens will be my game again for a while.

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Healer Trust

Good morning everyone…

I hope you all (well those state-side) had a nice extended weekend. I know I did, and didn’t want to come back to work. Anyway, this weekend I was able to get online for a bit, especially while my oldest son slept (had a fever this weekend, and slept a good bit), and the other just sat there and smiled all goofy like a 3 month old would. Plus we had to get the house ready for an appraiser (getting a refi), so I was helping my wife do that too. Well, what’s that got to do with Healer Trust? Well, while we did stuff around the house, while my wife was either outside or inside, she would trust me to be keeping an eye on the chillins’. Of course, I helped get stuff ready too, and in turn trusted that she kept an eye on them.

Healer Focus = Parent Focus :)
Healer Focus = Parent Focus 🙂

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How to Homogenize Healing

How far is too far?

How far is too far?

I think that the chemistry definition describes it best.

In Chemistry, mixtures may be homogeneous. In other words, mixtures have the same proportions throughout a given sample or multiple samples of different proportion to create a consistent mixture.

It has been said by the boys at Blue that healing classes are going to be homogenized further, to pull some classes out of their restricted niches. There are folks on both sides of this fence. There are those who fear that all healing classes will be so similar, that there will not be a defined niche for any certain type of healer. There are also those who fear that it may actually push some classes further into a defined niche, lessening their chances at a raid spot.

Personally, I believe that it isn’t a problem of the generality or specificity of the classes, but rather a problem with how Blizzard may plan to keep healing interesting. I do get a bit tired of playing whack-a-mole after a large raid wide damage spike happens.

Whack-a-mole.. err cat.

Whack-a-mole.. err cat.

In addition, there is more than just the spell selection that is being homogenized, as stats will be a difining factor as well, no matter the class.

Blizzard Says:

Homogenization is a risk. Totally. It’s something we try and fight against. In the case of healing, we don’t want to erode the unique aspects of the 5 talent specs. We just want to move the non-unique parts closer together. If you need an analogy, we’re not going to mess with the flowers or the fruit or the shape of the leaves. We just want everyone to have similar roots. Spells like Circle, Chain Heal and Beacon will continue to be an important and unique part of your repertoire. We just want to make sure everyone has the basic tools so that they aren’t in a situation where they’re trying to tighten screws with a hammer.

Now having said that, there are a couple of exceptions. If you are a Disc priest who loved to use PW:S and nothing else or a Resto druid who loved to use Rejuv and nothing else, then you will probably need to use more of your buttons again. We don’t want to promote the strategy of trying to pre-heal as many people as possible without really worrying about who is actually taking damage. There’s not a lot of decision-making or coordination or reactive gameplay there. Disc priests will need to actually cast heals (and Penance can certainly be one of them) and druids will have to mix in some direct heals along with their hots. (Source)

Healing in Cataclysm
I take a different view on a couple of your points here. Healers won’t be forced to spam their most efficient heal because the encounters will be less threatening early on. Later on when your mana regen as at its highest you will need to use your highest throughput spell because the damage is higher. You’ll also need to use your fast heal sometimes for the same reason. Fortunately fully raid buffed and in good gear, you’ll have more mana regen. I don’t think any of these changes encourage players to blame healers more. Bad players are always going to deflect their failures onto someone else. That is why they are bad players. The alternative is to make healing so simplistic that there is almost no chance of failure (i.e. nobody would ever die). You’d never get blamed for anything but you’d probably also be pretty bored.

Minus gaming coefficients, we pretty much had this model with downranking and it largely worked.

My fear is that if they over shoot the homogenization of the healing classes by to far, it will cause healing to become far more boring than it already is. Don’t get me wrong, healing isn’t always boring, in fact it can get pretty frantic at certain points. However, it is still the same spells with the same priorities, on the same targets.

Cataclysm looks to be pulling the Paladins out of their Tank heal only niche, and providing them with tools to provide raid healing. Now this isn’t necessarily efficient or effective raid healing, but we have yet to actually get our hands on it to see. Along with pulling each class out of their niche, it also appears that their stats are becoming far more homogenized as well. If you think about it, a Paladin would have NEVER consciously purchased or rolled on anything with spirit; however, come Cataclysm, it will be a very important addition to their healing repertoire.

I do agree that the stat homogenization is a good thing. There were so many Elemental Shamans and some Balance Druids who were left out of upgrades, simply because they shared stats with their healing equivelant. This appears to be going away with Cataclysm, as +Spirit is now going to be a “healer only” stat, while incentives will be provided to each class to incist on using the armor type appropriate. Grouping this together will make it that much easier for RL/GL to distribute gear accordingly.

It is good to hear, though, that they don’t plan on passing spells around like a mixed drink. Instead leaving Beacon, Chain Heal, PW: Bubble, etc. to their respective classes. This is also apparent with the new “AoE” heal for the paladin, as there has never before been a “moving totem” type spell like that, well at least not for healing.

Gnome demonstrating Healing Hands

Gnome demonstrating Healing Hands

Here’s to hoping that they continue with their current design philosophy, and don’t overdo the homogenization of the healing classes. Also, here’s to hoping that the new spells are worth the wait.

What a weekend

Happy Monday folks… if Monday’s can be happy.

I was able to get online a bit this weekend, even having a late night raid till about 2:00 Friday night. Lots of stuff happened, just look at my latest Character Tracker. Well, lots of stuff for a very casual player who isn’t able to get on very often.

Orgrim's Hammer

I started out, just messin’ around on the laptop, since it’s got a much lower framerate, I usually only quest and explore on there, so I decided to finally complete my World Explorer achievement. I was only a few zones away from getting Explore Kalimdor which would be the last touch. So I set up a roadmap to start with Talonbranch Glade in Felwood which was so far out of the way that I just got it done first. I then meandored my way into the Stonetalon Mountains and cleared the four last undiscovered locations there, moving my way southwest so that I could move right into Desolace. Once I got there, I took the long western shore, and finished up on the southeast corner, and moved into Feralas. From there I fortunately had only a few that were somewhat right off the road, and completed that zone. I happened to have some Elixer of Fortitudes that I had bought a while back to finish up my Sprite Darter quest, so I took the road into Shimmering Flats, but didn’t realize that I had a time limit on getting the egg back to Hinterlands, so I currently have a dead baby Sprite Darter egg sitting in my bag *sad*. After grabbing that, I took the elevator up to the Southern Barrens and picked up the one spot that I didn’t have in that area, and made my way into Mulgore.  There were a few here, mostly in a big circle from the east side around the bottom of the map up to the northwest corner of Thunder Bluff.

It was a relief to finally see that last flash of swirly light, and the World Explorer achivement get completed. I would consider it part of my Bucket list of things to do before Cataclysm, so it’s now marked off.

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These Crits are real.

Wow, Blizzard is really passing the information out since the preview. We just got a little bit more clarification on both Hands of Healing and the Critical Healing mastery.

Those Crits are Real.

Those Crits are Real.

As paladin healers, we have almost always looked for Crit Rating/Crit Chance, etc., on gear. Esepecially since BC and WotLK was released and the addition of Illumination and Infusion of Light. Our spells become more powerful with Crit, and with already high spell coifficients on our biggest spells, we can get even more out of them with Crit. Fortunately, Blizzard seems to be following this vision and making our Crits even better.

Critical Healing (Mastery)
I’m not sure I understand the logic here. Having larger crits makes crit chance attractive on gear, but I don’t think the reverse is true. You won’t be at a disadvantage if you have high crit and low mastery because you will just crit more often. You won’t be at a disadvantage if you have low crit and high mastery because when you do crit, your heals will be larger. Crit and mastery do complement each other well and I can understand why it might be a problem if haste and Spirit weren’t attractive stats so you were pigeon-holed into just crit + mastery gear, but those should both be very good stats.

(I’m ignoring the effects of Illumination, overhealing and the (specious) argument that “crit is inherently bad because it’s RNG” to keep things simple, so let me know if any of those is key to understanding this.)

This explains the importance, yet seeming to restate the obvious again, of having Crit chance on gear.  With the new Mastery system, the more crit you have, not only will you crit more often, but because of “Critical Healing Effect” you will have more heal per crit.

Also with the changes in encounters and tank damage, I don’t feel that those bigger Crits are going to be overheals as often as they are now.

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More Paladin Healing

Looks like some more updates and clarifications came down the pipe this weekend. I’m going to go ahead and post the blue post below and follow it up with some of my commentary, and hopefully follow it up with some of your commentary, haha. Anyway, this little tidbit seems to be focusing on the Paladin’s AE healing abilities.

Paladin Class Changes

For Tarinae 🙂

Our goal is for paladins to be able to raid heal. Don’t look at the designs for spells that none of you have even been able to try and conclude those mechanics can’t possibly allow you to raid heal and therefore our goal can’t possibly be met and will therefore be abandoned. It’s fine to raise concerns — that’s one of the reasons we announce stuff like this early — but some of you are trying to get a spell buffed that you haven’t even cast yet.

I will say our vision for the AE spell though is not that the paladin runs around constantly, but that you position yourself where you can do the most good. Sometimes that will be back with the healers. Sometimes that might be in the melee. Sometimes you’ll have to spread out and your group healing won’t be as efficient (in the same way a shaman’s group healing isn’t as good in the same scenario).

Tranquility is on a very long cooldown. It is not the way druids AE heal. We want to shift it from 5-person group to raid because we’d like to do that with every spell. Having to organize players by arbitrary group is a strange concept since it doesn’t actually manifest itself in the real world (in the way distance from you on the battlefield does).

We aren’t going to give paladins anything resembling Circle of Healing. One (or two) of those spells in the game is plenty.

Spirit will be a good stat to stack but only to a point. Once you can heal say a six minute boss fight without going out of mana, then any additional Spirit is pretty much wasted. At that point stats like crit start to look pretty attractive because they increase your spell’s throughput without increasing the mana cost. Maybe you’ll be able to heal someone with one cast, allowing you to swap over and heal another player. In today’s healing environment, where a lot of that excess healing will be wasted overhealing, getting a huge crit on a spell isn’t nearly as valuable.

We’ll have to see how raid healing goes. We might be okay with the tendency for groups to still assign paladins to tank healing because they are particularly good at it. What we want to avoid are those cases where a group feels like they can’t possibly keep tanks alive because they lack a paladin or they can’t possibly keep groups alive because they have too many paladins.

Wow, that was a good bit of info right there. Sadly it makes my visualization of Hands of Healing null and void, as it stresses that HoH isn’t going to have  you running around like mad, but instead having you place yourself where the heals are needed, limiting the efficiency of the AE healing in cases where players are spread out.  They allude to Shaman raid healing as an example, and how it is limited by range as well.

I do agree that it would be beneficial and a change in tactics for groups to actually group up depending on what healing is needed.  I also really like the idea that paladins will be moving closer to the melee area in some cases, and not always in the background with jazzhands.  However, I disagree with the comparison to Shaman healing.  The disagreement comes with the fact that a shaman can target where it heals bounce from.  While standing in the back of the room, the Shaman can still throw a chain heal into the melee group, and let it do the bouncing; while on the other hand, a Paladin will need to mosey on up to the melee group and start farting heals.  The time lost getting up there could be a factor.

Farting Heals

HoH under Thermal Imaging

Now, the Blizzard poster does have a point.

Don’t look at the designs for spells that none of you have even been able to try and conclude those mechanics can’t possibly allow you to raid heal and therefore our goal can’t possibly be met and will therefore be abandoned. It’s fine to raise concerns — that’s one of the reasons we announce stuff like this early — but some of you are trying to get a spell buffed that you haven’t even cast yet.

The point is well taken.  We can’t really determine how the spell will work if we’ve never seen it yet. I would, however, appreciate what ideas they have for range/strength of the heal being emitted. However, again, we really can’t determine what kind of use it will have until we can use it… maybe this post will catch Blizzard’s attention… and get me a beta key! 😛

Another not pointed out in this blue post was the mention of stacking spirit.  It’s stated that stacking spirit is a good idea, up to a point.  An example being healing a 6 minute fight without running out of mana.  I’m assuming that this includes using all of our normal mana regen cooldowns (if they exist come Cataclysm), on top of the stacked spirit. A sentence did stick out a bit, and maybe I’m just reading into things:

At that point stats like crit start to look pretty attractive because they increase your spell’s throughput without increasing the mana cost.

What did they mean by “without increasing the mana cost” in the statement above? Obviously crit is going to increase the throughput of your heals by doubling (think Critical Healing Effect Mastery) their output, but are they meaning “increasing the mana cost” by having to cast more heals? I can only assume that is the case, but could there be a new mechanic being added that allows increased throughput with increased mana usage (think Arcane Power, more power for more mana).  Again, maybe I’m just reading to much into this, but it does pop some light bulbs above my head.

In conclusion though, it does appear that the powers that be, don’t mind letting us fill the Tank healing niche. They just hope that having more than one paladin healer isn’t a hinderance in AoE healing.  As usual, time will tell.

What do you think about the paladin AoE heal? Will you still be running around like mad anyway?

Blizzard’s Suggested Paladin Healing Model

Ya, creative title isn’t it 😛

Anyway, I found some new information that came from some blue posters.  This pertaining directly to the Paladin healing model.  Here’s the text from the thread:

Paladin Healing model
We talked a lot about keeping the paladin model inverted, where the small heal is super efficient. There is probably a way it could still work. In the end we were just concerned that it would end up biting us in the rear. Somewhere along the way we’d have to make special rules to handle the paladin, who would risk being too mana efficient or too incapable of healing when forced to heal outside of their mana-efficient comfort zone. Could we have designed it? Probably. But frankly I’d rather spend our time on more interesting mechanics and spells. I’d rather the new AE heal really make paladins feel like they can AE heal rather than really making sure FoL felt small, cheap and fast. I agree it erodes a little bit of  distinction among the classes, but only a little bit. There are far more interesting ways to make healers feel unique than in the relative mana efficiency of their small spell.

This accentuates the point of how they plan to change how us paladins heal.  It’s going to be real hard for me to not want to use FoL a lot, as I already do now. In fact, I’m almost going to have to just change my Clique setup, so that I do it subconsciously.  We are going to have to get very used to using Holy Light as our Flash of Light replacement, and use the Super Holy Light as our healing bomb.  But this makes me wonder where Flash of Light is going to come into play.  I understand that it is still going to be a quick heal, and I’m sure the spell power coefficient will likely stay the same (or hopefuly go up), but when will it be better to use it in place of Holy Light or Super Holy Light?

Also mentioned is how they plan to have our AE heal feel like we’re able to AE heal.  I still am really skeptical on how Hands of Healing will work.  We are going to be a moving HoT, but unless there is enough healing radiating from our pores, then we’ll still need to stand still and cast something.

My prediction is that they will provide a decent range (15-20 yds?) and at least a decent amount of healing + (spellpower coeffcient * 100), to allow us to continue running around the raid keeping the HoT moving and reaching those who need it.

I can’t resist… here’s my visualization again:

lol HoH

lol Hands of Healing... lololol... >_>

Anyway, back to the subject at hand.  (no pun intended)  There was mention of some clarification to the Critical Healing Effect passive Mastery abilities we would get as Holy Paladins.

Critical Healing Effect
There also seems to be some confusion about Critical healing Effect which simply means a critical heal can do more than 150%. (Think of talents like Ruin for warlocks.) We wanted to keep some of the feel of Holy paladins getting big critical heals and caring about crit in general. This mechanic wouldn’t really have worked in Wrath of the Lich King because big crits just translated into overhealing. In Cataclysj that shouldn’t be the case.

This is exactly how I interpreted the change.  I figured that they would simply increase the amount of output that Critical Heals generate by increasing the percentage (150% -> 175% or even 200%).  It also gives further insite into how large some of our health pools will be, or at least the kind of damage that is going to be output.

I do have a question about it though.  If our health pools get larger, and the new bosses will hit a bit less hard, but hit more often…. what are going to happen to the current HARD hitting bosses?  Is it going to be much more difficult to heal through these encounters if we decide to have an old school raid night?  Really interesting thing to think about.

What are your thoughts on Blizzard’s new Paladin healing model?